October 2, 2016

Brian Stetler had a little discussion about Sean Hannity's super close bromance with Donald Trump. First, he cued up a snippet from SNL's Alec Baldwin impersonation of Donald Trump from last night, a performance that is getting him rave reviews. In the SNL skit, Baldwin talks about how he "whispered in Sean's ear" that he didn't support in the war in Iraq and the next thing he knows, he was kissing Sean Hannity,

So the group chatting about this insinuation (cough cough truth cough) that Trump and Sean are in bed together, so to speak. His guests were David Zurawik from the Baltimore Sun and Margaret Sullivan.

They talked about Trump's "fox-centric" strategy over the last 6 weeks where he has only been on their shows. In particular, they talked about a September 18, 2008 interview that Hannity did with Sarah Palin where they made this insanely presidential looking set with flags, a china cabinet, etc. Somehow they tried to make her appear presidential and normal.

If only she had kept her mouth shut, eh?

And in particular, they hammered Trump for repeatedly telling the debate audience/media to "call up Sean Hannity" as his lifeline Phone a Friend option. No, Sean will not save you. No one takes him seriously. He is not a a journalist. He is a paid shill. A highly paid shill, at that.

He is in a Fox News bubble.

Exactly.

Here's a partial transcript via Media Matters:

BRIAN STELTER (HOST): David, what about Trump's Fox-centric strategy. We've seen him cloister himself on Fox, giving more than a dozen interviews there in September, almost no other national TV interviews off of Fox. Do you believe this is a problem for journalists that we can't directly question Trump?

DAVID ZURAWIK: I don't think it's a problem for journalists and he's certainly entitled to try that strategy but I have to tell you something, Brian. When I was thinking of Sean Hannity in connection with this, I went back and I found a piece where Hannity interviewed Sarah Palin on September 18, 2008. And in it he is serving up softballs, he never follows up, he's servile. And they made the set with this china cabinet and American flags look like it might be an executive office building so that she would look normal in this setting. And it was so pitiful to see the way this was going. And you remember, she was only doing those interviews.Last line of my review was look, she couldn't even handle the softballs from servile Sean Hannity, next week she's supposed to talk to Katie Couric, maybe they better rethink that because she's so much in the bubble, she can't deal with real stuff.

And I'll tell you what -- you saw this in the debate when Trump kept saying I don't know why the media won't call up Sean Hannity, they should call up Sean Hannity. I'm siting there going, who would care what Sean Hannity said? If I went to my editors and said, hey you know Sean Hannity said Donald really did say Iraq, they'd laugh, they'd throw me out the window of the newsroom. But he's in that bubble. He's in that Fox bubble where he believes that Sean Hannity's opinion or Sean Hannity could actually verify your story and anybody would believe it. He's already too far in that bubble and it really hurt him in that debate. When he kept saying Sean Hannity, it was a strange, strange moment.

STELTER: Isn't that the problem, Margaret, that Hannity doesn't have credibility across a vast swatch of the country. So it doesn't matter what he might have been told by Trump years ago.

MARGARET SULLIVAN: Well Brian, I think that we all understand that Hannity is kind of an arm of the Trump campaign who happens to be in sort of an island on Fox. But I don't know the extent to which the Fox audience or the you know the general public really knows or sees that. I think we have a different view of it and we don't see him as a journalist and I think he has actually said that. He doesn't see himself as a journalist and there are variations on this theme. There are hard news reporters and there are commentators, but I think Hannity in this case is in sort of a class by himself.

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